Biodegradation of Charcoal Production Wastes
|| Isotopic Analysis
In 1995, a house in Kingsford, Michigan, developed explosive levels
of methane (CH4) that was degassing from the aquifer below the house.
Methane built up in the basement, and eventually an explosion occurred.
The methane was likely the result of the microbial degradation of
organic compounds in a plume of contaminants emanating from nearby
industrial areas. The operation of charcoal production and other
industrial facilities led to the release of organic compounds, such
acid, creosote, and tar into the subsurface. As the organic
compounds migrated away from the industrial areas, microorganisms
converted the organic compounds to methane and carbon dioxide, creating
plumes of methane in the subsurface. The methane moved with the
natural ground-water flow system and escaped to the surface.
To help determine the source of the methane-generating ground water,
USGS scientists used compound-specific carbon-isotope analysis.
The isotopic signature of the contaminants was used to help identify
if there was one or more sources of contamination and to help understand
the natural degradation of the contaminants.
||Ean Warren, USGS, National Research Program,
Menlo Park, CA,
- Michel, R.L., Silva, S., Godsy, E.M., Warren, Ean, and Westjohn,
Carbon-Isotope Analysis in a Contaminant Plume in Kingsford, Michigan,
Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 79, supplement,
- Michel, R.L., Silva, S.r., Bemis, B., Godsy, E.M., Warren, E.,
Westjohn, D.B., 2001,
- Compound-specific carbon isotope analysis of a contaminant plume
in Kingsford, Michigan, USA, in Gehrels, H., Peters, N.E., Hoehn,
E., Jensen, K., Leibundgut, C., Griffioen, J., Webb B., and Zaadnoordijk,
W.J. eds. Impact of Human Activity on Groundwater Dynamics: International
Association of Hydrologic Sciences Publication no. 269, pp. 311-316.
- Godsy, E.M., Warren, E., and Westjohn, D.B., 2001,
- Methanogenic biodegradation of charcoal production wastes in
groundwater at Kinsford, Michigan, USA in Gehrels, H., Peters,
N.E., Hoehn, E., Jensen, K., Leibundgut, C., Griffioen, J., Webb
B., and Zaadnoordijk, W.J. eds. Impact of Human Activity on Groundwater
Dynamics: International Association of Hydrologic Sciences Publication
no. 269, p. 303-309.
USGS Information on Natural Attenuation
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